Sunday, 14 October 2012

Dyeing with walnuts.

I have been experimenting with natural dyes for a while now, but this time, I was blown away.
The yarn on the right is just mordant, no vinegar rinse - just walnuts.  It is by far the nicest colour I have ever made.  The ball on the left is the yellow yarn I made with carrot tops that I re-dipped.  I am much much happier with it now.
 A friend of mine gave me a bag full of black walnuts from the tree in her back yard.  I cut along the outside and twisted them open like avocados to get the hull off.
 I am letting the nut dry out before I split them open to get the "meat" out.  In the meantime, I put all of the hulls in my dye pot and filled it with as much water as possible and let them soak for one week.

By the should wear gloves.  I knew this, but I always forget to wear gloves.  The picture above is what my hands looked like when I finished separating just that bowl of hulls.  It got worse and worse as the day went on until half my right hand was dark dark brown - almost black - and no matter what you do, it will take days and days to wear off.   Today is day 8 since I separated the hulls and I still have dark brown stains around a few of my fingernails.  It did, however, give me high hopes of what would happen to my yarn:)

So, the hulls soaked for one week.  I brought the whole mix up to a boil and simmered for about an hour.  Then I strained it through a regular household strainer (that I only use for dyeing) and plunked a piece of linen in the pot, just to see if anything would happen.  That's when I realized that I had forgotten to finish spinning my yarn that was intended for this particular dye pot.

The linen came out a nice camel colour just from sitting in the dye bath while I finished spinning.  Next up was the wool.  I didn't even get it wet first (I forgot in my hast to test out the new colour).  I just put it in the pot, returned the pot to a simmer, and let it sit there.  I had intended to let it soak for an hour but after half an hour, the colour was GORGEOUS so I took it out.

I loved it so much I walked around the house seeing what else I could throw in the pot.
The top piece of linen was my first test run.  It's kind of a nice dark camel colour.  The wool (that came out chocolate) was my 2nd piece in the pot.  I thought I would try cotton (on the far right above) but it came out looking like dirt.  I decided to go ahead and overdye my yellow yarn from last week, and then I thought I would try to tie dye a piece of linen but I didn't put the elastics on tightly enough (bottom piece of linen in the photo above- right above the white piece).  Overall I am quite pleased with everything.  I could pretty much get a succession of lighter and lighter pieces as they came out of the pot.  I will definitely be doing this again next year - with linen and with lots and lots of wool.

What have you been dyeing lately?
Linking up with Keep Calm Craft On over at Frontier Dreams on Tuesday.
                        The backyard Farming Connection (Hop)
                        Barn Hop over at Homestead Revival
                        Creative Friday at Natural Suburbia on Friday
                        Fiber Arts Friday at Wisdom Begins in Wonder
                        Farm Girl Friday Blog Fest
                        Frugal by Choice, Cheap by Necessity
                        The Self Sufficient HomeAcre for the creative homeacre hop
                        Wildcraft Wednesday at the Self Sufficient HomeAcre (shared with other hosts as well)


  1. ooooh, I LOVE how that walnut changed the color. It's rich and very natural. It reminds me of one of the Alpacas I used to own. A beautiful chocolate I should say, Walnut brown.

  2. I saw the title of your post and just had to have a look! Beautiful, beautiful yarn, the walnut has given such a rich and amazing colour!
    Have a great week,

  3. This looks wonderful! I keep meaning to have a try at dying my own yarn but haven't got around to it, yet.

  4. Wow!

    Our neighbor has a black walnut tree. He encourages us to take what we want, but I'm not a fan of walnuts so much... but this... this is another story. That color is amazing.

  5. Very cool! Natural dyeing is on my list.
    The colors are so rich and warm.

  6. What a luscious deep brown! Absolutely beautiful! Our next door neighbor has a yard full of walnuts, and I have a few skeins of undyed handspun. I will definitely have to try this. I had no idea it produced such a deep shade without a mordant.

  7. Great color. Good to have the details of the process.

  8. I was just lining up a place to scavenge some black walnut...thanks for showing the results!

  9. Very pretty! I can smell the walnut hulls from here, it reminds me of my childhood, we had two big black walnut trees in our yard.

  10. What lovely colours. I like the picture of your hand. We got stained hands like that last year.

  11. Both yarns are beautiful. I do love that deep brown. Looks like chocolate.

  12. Hello! I’m stopping in to invite you to join us at the Clever Chicks Blog Hop this week!

    I hope to see you there!
    The Chicken Chick

  13. I love the colors and absolutely love that you are using all natural dyes! Thanks so much for sharing this on The Creative HomeAcre! I can't wait to see what you share next time at...

  14. great share :) must try it on my hair!

  15. Did you use anything to 'fix' the color on your yarn and cloth? I remember doing this at a teenager with a number of difference natural dyes...but it seems like I used a chemical fixer in the rinse water.

    Thanks for sharing on The Creative HomeAcre Hop!
    Hope to see you next time at:

    1. Normally I use alum or iron or tin, depending on what plant I am using to dye the wool, but walnuts needs nothing at all to help it "stick". I have read that rhubarb leaves work as a natural mordant but I haven't tried it yet. I plan to give it a shot this spring.

  16. Thanks for sharing this on The Creative HomeAcre Hop! I'm featuring this post today!

    I'm looking forward to seeing more posts from you this week!

  17. We have lots of walnuts, I'll give this a try! I also have a spinning wheel that I still have not gotten the hang of. That's a problem!

  18. Thanks for sharing your talent on Wildcrafting Wednesday!

    I hope to see you again this Wednesday at:…nky-love-party.html
    Spoiler alert: I'm unveiling a cool new promotional tool tomorrow on The Self Sufficient HomeAcre at: